SmartThings Community

Compatibility with Z-wave


#1

Hi, I have just joined this site. I am looking at purchasing the ST hub.

  1. Is the ST hub compatible with ALL z-wave products?

  2. Can the ST hub control all of the same branded devices that a Z-wave hub?

Thanks


(codersaur) #2

From https://support.smartthings.com/hc/en-gb/articles/204392790-Z-Wave-general-info:

The SmartThings Hub is a Z-Wave-certified central static controller. It can be included in any Z-Wave network and operate with Z-Wave certified devices from other manufacturers.

So, yes, at a basic level the SmartThings hub can connect with any z-wave certified devices. However, in practice, SmartThings needs a device handler for each device type. Out of the box, SmartThings includes device handlers for a wide range of common devices (see https://www.smartthings.com/works-with-smartthings), but it you want to integrate with something obscure then you might find you need to create your own device handler using the Groovy programming language. You need to have somewhat of a programmer mindset, but this community forum has plenty of resources to help you do that.

If you have a particular device in mind, and it’s not in the official ‘works with SmartThings’ list, then search this forum to see if someone has already created a device handler for it.


#3

Hello, thanks for your reply. I have no idea about programming or anything like that so I’m wondering if ST is right for me?

There doesn’t seem to be hardly any choice on the Samsung list of works with smart things. Or Is it just that Samsung don’t update the list?!

For example, I can’t find any thermostats on the list for my water underfloor heating.

The HA shop has also recommended ‘Vera’ and ‘Fibaro’ controllers.

I’m not sure if ST is a better hub?

Thanks in advance


(Jim Archer) #4

Speaking for myself, I switched from Vera to Smart Things and suddenly my home automation became useful. Vra just didn’t work, but you should be aware of something I was not before I bought my ST hub.

On a Vera hub, all the control happens on the hub. Whatever you tell it to do, it’s the hub that does it. ST is different. It must be connected to the Internet and most things it does, it does in the cloud. This means that much of the processing that happens, happens off your site. This has it’s advantages and disadvantages. It offers much better integration with other services (Harmony, Nest and so on) that have cloud based capabilities, but it makes you dependent on the Internet and the ST platform.

As for not being able to program, you don’t have to. Most here don’t. If your floor heat can work with a supported thermostat (there are many not on the official list) then ST will work with it. Keep in mind also that home automation is, for most people, a hobby. There are absolutely folks who use it who have physical disabilities and it greatly improves their lives, but for most people, it’s a hobby and they don’t really need it. They mess with this stuff for the fun of it.


#5

Thanks for that Jim.

It’s hard to know what to go for as the HA stores clearly sell whatever they stock & will push you into that.

I’ve read hundreds of articles online and some of it still goes over my head. I get it is just for fun really but the security side of it is important to me and it is still quite a lot of money.

I guess my question to actual real users on here (rather than stores or reviewers) is are you happy with the ST hub? Would you recommend it? Or do you wish you went with something else?

Jim, regarding the thermostat, there is nothing on the official list so how do I know what I buy will be compatible?

Thanks again


#6

The SmartThings hub is a white plastic box that holds several different internal devices, including a certified Z wave controller. Here is its listing on the official Z wave alliance site:

It will have “basic” (Z wave term) compatibility with any certified zwave device, which means basic on/off and basic dimming. For features beyond that, as @zcapr17 mentioned, it requires a “device type handler.”

If two certified devices have the same features and use the same Z wave command sets, then you can use the same device type handler even if it was first created for another brand.

New Devices

In a few cases, there is a combination of features which just hasn’t been used with SmartThings before, and then the community will usually get together and create a device type handler for it. A good example is The remotetec eight button control panel. Each of the buttons has three options: press, double press, and long hold.

Prior to this device, button controllers with these three options had from 1 to 7 buttons. There just hadn’t been one with eight buttons before. So community members created a new device type handler for it that could handle that eighth button. :sunglasses: After that, the device could be used with SmartThings, with all 24 options available.

What doesn’t work well with SmartThings

There is one class of devices which do not work well with SmartThings. Or rather, they still work the way the Z wave standards as they should, but smart things customers will tend to be frustrated by them.

SmartThings is a multiprotocol platform. That means you could press one of those remotec buttons and have a group of devices all turn on at the same time, including a Z wave controlled overhead light, A zigbee smart bulb in a table lamp, and a SmartThings – compatible Wi-Fi controlled fan. So far, so good, and it’s one of the strengths of the SmartThings platform.

The reason this works is because the remotec sends a message to the smartthings hub when its button is pushed (through the Z wave controller inside the hub) and then the hub sends out the appropriate protocol messages to all of the devices set up for that rule. This works very well.

However, there are some Z wave devices called “scene controllers” which don’t talk to the hub when a button is pressed. Instead, they try to send a message directly to a nearby Z wave device like a lamp. This device generally has to be in the same room. These were popular a few years ago for on the wall button panels and a few handheld remotes. But they don’t work well with SmartThings because this method can only be used for other Z wave devices in the same room, and they don’t tell the hub what they’re doing. That means at the very least the status will get out of sync. But where new SmartThings customers tend to get very frustrated is that that button controller can only control a few devices, and they expect it to be able to work with anything that works with SmartThings, because other devices like the remotec do.

There are other wallmount button controllers which do tell the hub what they doing each time, but they use a different Z wave Command set, either “Association” or “central scene.”

Device Selection

Once you know about this issue, it’s not usually a problem if you’re buying new devices. You learn to check the official Z wave alliance site to see if the device uses “scene control,” or you just come to the forums and see if anyone else is using the device already. There are usually alternative devices, often that look very similar, but that do use one of the other two methods that SmartThings works better with.

The people who have the most frustration are those who previously had a Z wave – only system and had already installed a number of these scene controllers. They switch to SmartThings because they also want to be able to use Hue bulbs or other zigbee devices. So they buy some zigbee bulbs, set them up, and then find that SmartThings can’t use them with their existing scene controller wall switches.

Note that the problem isn’t that SmartThings doesn’t work with zwave– – it does. And it works with Zigbee bulbs. But SmartThings can’t pass a message from a zwave switch to a zigbee bulb if that switch doesn’t tell SmartThings that it was pressed. Most zwave switches will. But some of the older models that were specifically designed as local scene controllers won’t.

It all makes sense once you understand what’s going on, but it can be a frustrating journey. But since the two types of devices look almost the same, you have to do a little investigation before buying to know whether it will work as a multi platform controller or not.

This device is a local scene controller and can only control other Z wave devices that are nearby. It doesn’t really work well in a SmartThings set up.

But this device talks to the hub each time a button is pressed, so it could be used to control anything that SmartThings controls. So you can see why people get frustrated if they don’t understand why there’s a difference.

Again, though, community members will be glad to help investigate a device if needed.

Which devices are known to work with SmartThings?

Again, any certified Z wave device should work at the basic on/off/dim level with SmartThings. That’s what having the third-party certification for the hub means.

Above that, in addition to the devices on the official compatibility list, you can look at the list of device type handlers in the quick browse list section of the community – created wiki just to see what’s already there.

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section#Quick_Browse_Links_for_Device_Type_Handlers

Even that doesn’t cover everything. Quite often a new device can use a device type handler that was created for a different brand, as long as they both have the same Z wave features.

So if you want to be sure, you can just come to the forums and search for that model number, and if you don’t find it, ask. People are always glad to help. :sunglasses:


#7

As far as which hub to get, everything has pluses and minuses. SmartThings is powerful and versatile, but as @helios said it is cloud dependent for almost everything and it has some issues with reliability. Every few weeks they change something in the cloud and inevitably break something else, at least for a few hours and sometimes for weeks.

A lot of times what breaks is minor, but it’s still annoying, and it does mean that at present SmartThings is quite a high maintenance system requiring effort just to keep things running as they were.

The company is very aware of the issue and have said that they are making improving stability their top priority. I believe that, they’re just not quite there yet.

So it all depends on your own needs and preferences. The following thread might be of interest:


(Jim Archer) #8

I don’t know anything about your heating system but both Nest and Echobee thermostats are compatible with many, many different types of heating systems. Also, you could search here for “Z-Wave Thermostat” and see what else people are using. Even if its not on the official Samsung supported list, if a member here contributed a device handler for it then you’re good.

You said its water in the floor, so maybe it’s no different than any other forced hot water system?


#9

This method of heating is quite popular in the UK and there are some devices that will work.

If you yourself are in the UK I would check that section of the forum.

https://community.smartthings.com/c/uk

You can also use the quick browse lists in the community – created wiki and look at device type handlers on the HVAC list (HVAC equals heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning). I know there’s one for the HeatIt system, for example. :sunglasses:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section#Quick_Browse_Links_for_Device_Type_Handlers


(codersaur) #10

Having used Rako Lighting for many years, and wanting to expand to a full HA system, I reviewed the home automation controller market in late 2015. I considered: Vera, Fibaro HC2, SmartThings, openHAB, Zipato, Apple HomeKit, Homeseer, Fhem, Lutron, Control4, Crestron, and a few other lesser-known systems.

My main conclusions were:

  • No single system does everything I want. I therefore want to cherry-pick the best individual systems for my needs (e.g. Honeywell EvoHome heating) and link them together. I therefore need a central controller with an open architecture, in which I can develop my own device interfaces and automation logic. [This rules out the closed systems like Control4 and Crestron.]
  • Of the ‘open’ systems, Z-Wave and Zigbee are the two leading protocols that any good HA controller must support. I also want no running/subscription costs, pretty graphics, mobile support, a good user support community, well-documented APIs, solid reliability, and all-round good integration prospects. [This narrowed the contenders to: Vera, Fibaro HC2, SmartThings, Zipato]
  • Out of these four, I felt that Samsung had the edge in terms ‘big-name’ system integration (e.g. Hue, Nest, EvoHome, IFTTT).

One year later, my conclusions are:

  • SmartThings is okay, but it’s nowhere near as good as it could be.
  • I have been able to integrate everything I wanted (lighting, EvoHome heating, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, custom sensors, historical reporting), but it’s taken a lot of effort coding to get there.
  • System reliability is (just) acceptable, but I would prefer more of the logic to occur locally on the hub.
  • SmartThings’ biggest flaws right now are:
  • Lack of an officially-supported advanced rules engine (“Routines” are far too simple to be of much use). We have to rely on community-supported rules engines.
  • Dependency on the cloud. More logic needs to run locally.
  • From a developer perspective, the SmartThings APIs cover the basics, but are poorly implemented and disappointingly buggy in places. Documentation is hit and miss. Most issues can be worked around however.
  • What keeps me from switching to Vera or Fibaro right now is the user community, plus I know I would have a similar list of the gripes with Vera or Fibaro.
  • Overall, I give SmartThings 7/10.

I would definitely recommend investing in a Z-Wave/ZigBee platform, and currently, I would recommend SmartThings as one of the better controllers. It’s a competitive and fast-changing market though, and if you don’t like SmartThings you can switch it out with a Vera, Fibaro, Zipato, etc at a later date without having to replace all your devices.


#11

Thank you to everyone for the advice! I am much clearer about how it all works now and am going to give ST a try. I had narrowed it down to Vera, Fibaro & ST.

When you say someone on the community will ‘create a device handler’ - does this mean they will create some sort of code and share it?

Thanks again for clearing it up.


(Jim Archer) #12

That’s exactly right.


(Bruce Robertson) #13

And it is quite easy to install, even for a non-developer. You basically log into a website, paste the code, and perhaps adjust a few drop-down items on the website to use a custom device handler that someone shares. There’s an article under the FAQ section of this forum that shows how to get started with custom code in SmartThings.


#14

Right.

They will create the code, and they usually start an author’s thread in the “community created device types” section of this forum.

https://community.smartthings.com/c/projects-stories/community-created-device-types

But that section can be pretty hard to search, so the community wiki has a set of “quick browse lists” with one list for lighting, one list for motion sensors, one list for HVAC, etc. That way you can go right to the device type handlers that match what you’re looking for. :sunglasses:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section

Once you find one that you’re interested in trying, it’s basically a copy and paste process to add it to your own account. Here’s the FAQ for that, which also explains the concept a little more:

And if you have any questions, you can post them in the author thread and other people who are using that device type handler should be able to help.

Being able to add custom device type handlers is one of the best features of SmartThings, and the reason it can work with so many different devices. And the community is great, not only are people willing to share code, many are willing to help if you get a new device and need some modifications to make it work. :sunglasses: